Count Dooku Study, Sculpt and 3D print

Count Dooku Study, Sculpt and 3D print

Lately I have been moving more into the character design realm and it has been a scary and pretty exciting journey. I had the pleasure to work on a couple of commercial projects – some were amazing and succeeded, other failed miserably, but the one thing they had in common is that I have learned a lot.

Met one of my 3D Artist Heroes!

I had the absolute pleasure to meet one of my all time heroes when it comes to 3d modeling and especially 3d character design. Hell, I even had the absolute pleasure to be mentored by him even if it was just for a mere three days at THU. I’m talking about the amazing Victor Hugo 3d artist (“The 3d artist, not the writer,” as he would say).
The Promise
Since then, I wanted to learn more and more to become a better 3d character designer and a better artist overall, but between being a dad, going to the gym (which I have been doing for more than a year now), working on my first iPad kids book, and projects piling up, I barely had time to do any personal project. I started many, but I barely finished a couple… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining and I’m not blaming the reasons stated above for my lack of perseverance, I should have found the time, even if I had to sleep less or maybe give up spending too much time on Social media, but hey!, here I am talking about external reasons.
Anyhow, for 2016 I made a list that include a couple of things that I will never do again… I know how cliche that sounds, but cliche or not, I was able to keep it up for the last 2 month in and I even found time to do another personal project which is way, way, way out of my comfort zone,  follow me on Instagram, cause I would love to hear your thoughts.
But you are not here to read about my so called struggles with Resistance as Stephen Pressfield calls it.
The Project
I’m a huge Star Wars fan, I freaking love Star Wars and in that amazing Universe, Star Wars Clone Wars the series has a special place in my heart; the style is amazing, the characters are awesome, the stories are just brilliant. I love everything about that series, and one of my all time favourite Star Wars characters, about which my dear friend Damian says: “He has a shitty name”, but I totally disagree, is Count Dooku. I love Christopher Lee and his performance of Count Dooku was brilliant, but the 3d character which is based on him is just amazing, the clean lines the sharp shapes, the evil, mystery and power in that face is beyond amazing.
And here is where I got introduced to the amazing work of Darren E.Marshall Traditional Sculptor for Visual Development and Character Design, his work is amazing. I love his sculpting! I used to spend hours looking at every photo from his portfolio, trying to learn what makes his work so amazing. This is when I decided that one day, when I have the time, I will have to sculpt the Count Dooku head that he sculpted for the Clone Wars.
Well, that day has come and I was able to find the time to 3d sculpt Count Dooku into ZBrush and try to copy everything that Darren E.Marshall did to see if I can replicate his amazing work.
It was supposed to be a challenge, a study and an exercise. At the same time, a challenge because everybody knows how Count Dooku looks and the version Darren E.Marshall did is sooo good, and I was afraid that I won’t be able to pull it off. And, to make things more interesting, I was about to 3d sculpt it on my Cintiq Companion 2. It’s the first time that I have ever used a Cintiq for 3d sculpting. I wanted to know if the Cintiq would be a good tool to have in my arsenal, the guys at Wacom offer the possibility to return the product in 40 days if you don’t like it, so to make sure the tool was great, this was the perfect test.
After a couple of days… actually, it was a couple of hours in one weekend, then a couple of hours during the evening before going to bed, I was able to finish the 3d sculpt and, to be honest, I was very happy about the result – it came out pretty nice. I don’t want to blow my own horn here, but you can check out the screenshots for yourself.
I learned so much from this sculpt; I learned to appreciate and love Darren E.Marshall’s work even more than I did before: I did this in ZBrush with unlimited undos and using his photos as guides, he did it traditionally… I learned so much on how to get more contrast out of sharp and round shapes, also that Count Dooku has some soft areas in his design, maybe they were created for contrast or maybe also to remind us that he was an amazing Jedi.
The 3D print
Well, now that I was able to replicate the sculpt, I had to 3d print it. I have an amazing Zortrax m200 literally sitting in my office and it has been gathering a bit of dust because it’s not getting the love it deserves. I know, shame on me! Trust me, nobody is more pissed at me than me. But hey, get a grip man! We are talking about art, sculpture and great artists here! Stop whining!
So I took the 3d model that I just finished 3d sculpting in ZBrush and started preparing it for 3d printing. I decided to 3d print this guy as one piece; no need to split it cause it’s a head after all. In ZBrush I made sure the model was water tight, by dynameshing after merging all the subtools, once the dynamesh was done I did a decimation process using Decimation master, made the model really low while staying clean and without losing any details. Printers can’t handle big files, cause it will take a lot of time to slice them in their own software and when printing they might run into errors. So try to keep the 3d models for 3d printing as low as possible, and decimation master is just the perfect tool for that.
I wanted to 3d print this at a specific scale and ZBrush is notoriously known for sucking when it comes to scaling anything to a specific size. There are a couple of awesome tutorials from the guys at Mold 3d but it still would be awesome to have more control on sizing. Here is where I discovered an great ZBrush plugin called CalipersMaster; it’s not an official plugin, and you can buy calipers master here. I highly recommend it, cause it’s freaking brilliant, and I think the guys at ZBrush should def  hire this guy. ZBrush is the number one tool for artist who want to do 3d printing, and sometimes we need to have a bit of control, especially if we are trying to create something that needs to be worn or functional. I don’t need them to be 100% accurate, I can live with a ballpark. Anyhow, get the plugin, it’s awesome!
I wanted the first 3d print to be around 120mm. Once I set the scale I exported the obj file from ZBrush, next I imported the model into Z Suite – that’s the software that Zortrax m200 uses to slice out the models and prepare them for 3d printing.
Now to find the right angle to 3d print the Count Dooku bust, I usually do a couple of tests to see where Zsuite will create the support structure, rotating the model to find the perfect angle and by perfect angle I mean the one that creates the less amount of support structure especially in the areas that I more visible, so for this project I didn’t want any support structure anywhere near his face, so I decided to lay the model on it’s back this way the support structure will be create at the back of his head which will not be that visible and also will be easier to clean and sand.
NextI tested out was the degree of support, and by this I mean you need to tell the 3d printer at which angle should it start creating support structure, and the beauty with Zortrax’s software is that you can easily get the feel of what would work by viewing each layer or slice that the printer will be printing to create the final 3d model.
I ended up using the 20 degree support for this print, also you may notice that the Zsuite created a support structure in the eye, and that was my fault I left a part of the eye floating in mid air, when dynameshing you have to make sure you don’t have “islands” floating on each slice cause those will create support, fortunately that was easy to clean, but I won’t forget next time, make sure to so lots of tests, cause that’s the only way you will learn more about 3d printing try to use it’s weaknesses to your advantage.
Saved the project to the SD card and after making sure the 3d printer was calibrated I started the 3d print. And I also setup my camera  to record the entire process, the 3d print took about 3 hours and I went home. I gotta tell you, the feeling when you get back to the office and you see a successful 3d print waiting for you, it’s just beyond magical. Took the model from the 3d printer… and now let’s check the footage on how the 3d print went, and …. the camera took 50 photos and stopped. It was supposed to take 500, the battery died, I was so excited to 3d print this, I forgot to check the battery. Here you can see what I was able to retrieve from the SD, which you can see not much…
The 3d print came out pretty awesome. This is at 0.19mm and this is not even the highest resolution the Zortrax can 3d print which is 0.09mm. I rarely use the 0.09mm especially if it’s a testing project. I usually use 0.29mm, which gives out a pretty decent 3d print. As you can see the 3d print came out pretty clean and it doesn’t need that much cleaning. On the front, I needed to take out the extra support inside the eyes but that wasn’t bad, but if we look at the back of the model here is where you can see the problems, but even that is not bad, cause I can fix that with a bit of putty. I used vallejo putty to fill out the crevices and I did a bit of sanding, I added a couple of layers of primer using Tamiya Fine surface putty, and as you can see, once I added the primer the resolution or slices lines started to become more obvious, orange, red, blue and especially white ABS are awful when it comes to judging the details, because of the SSS effect light get absorbed plus the reflection and glossiness of the plastic makes the model look pretty smooth but once you add primer which is matte all those details start to pop out.
Cleaning up The 3D print
After a couple of layers of primer, I was ready to start painting. I know the lines are still visible and it’s not perfectly smooth, and to be honest I don’t mind the lines anymore. I think those lines give the 3d print a lot of character, and I’m not saying that so I can justify the lines, I’m saying if you look at a wooden sculpture the texture it has makes it even more interesting, if you look at a clay texture, the finger prints, scratches left by tools is what makes the look natural, so why not on 3d printing, just because it’s plastic it doesn’t mean that it has to be perfectly smooth. I learned to Embrace the Lines and you will see at the end of the paint job how I used the lines to my advantage.
The painting and Final Result
I used Vallejo model color acrylic paints, and I didn’t use an airbrush, although I have one. I can’t find the time to learn how to use it properly, it’s on my long to do list…
I painted the 3d print manually using brushes. I don’t know anything about brushes, the only thing I know is you have to get natural hair ones and they are a bit more expensive than the ones you get at ikea, and the main difference between the 2 is that natural hair ones are better when applying paint and they don’t leave brush hairs on your models. For the paint job I decided to replicate a wooden look, because the 3d printing lines will help sell the wooden look, and as you can see from the final result, it came out pretty nice, or at least I’m happy with it. Finally, I sealed the paint with a couple of coats of glossy finish – the ones you use on acrylic painting to make sure the colors stay nice and vibrant, and help protect the paint.

About Oasim Karmieh

My name is Oasim Karmieh and for the last 12 years I have been working as a freelancer,I have had the pleasure to work with clients all over the world. I have worked on some amazing projects from Animated films, animated short films, commercials and interactive iPad books. I’m what you call a Jack of all trades, but my true love and passion is teaching I always enjoyed sharing my knowledge and technique with all my friends, This is why I started, cause I really believe in sharing knowledge and experience, the only way we can grow as artists is to help other artists grow with us.


  • Jean-Marc says:

    Hi Oasim,

    Great post!
    Thanks for sharing this and stuff from your life, it’s nice to be able to relate on other levels than just 3D.
    Awesome art and congrats on your tutorials, I am in the middle of your “Developing Expert Product Visualizations in Maya and V-Ray” tutorial and it’s amazing. Great delivery, great tips, great workflow, I am learning so much.

    Keep sharing!

    • Hey Jean-Marc, Thank you So much! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the article 😀 and to hear that people are still watching my courses it’s an amazing feeling 😀 By the way don’t forget to sign-up to the Newsletter so you don’t miss the good stuff 😀
      Checked your portfolio great work on the Painted Toy project that came out looking pretty sweet! Keep creating!

  • Carlos says:

    Any way to share the STL file? I have the same zortrax printer and would love to print one of these.

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” ― Phil Collins

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